Director Kitty Green burst onto the scene with her 2019 feature “The Assistant,” a timely and searing exploration of gender dynamics and misogyny in the Hollywood workplace.
Her follow-up, “The Royal Hotel,” explores similar territory, placing its lead characters (played by Julia Garner and Jessica Henwick) in a series of situations at an Australian pub that explodes into violence. But as Green explained to TheWrap, executives wondered when its psychologically calculated, micro-aggressive tensions would escalate to what Hollywood has traditional centered in such explorations: sexual assault and violence.
“We had a lot of finance people read it and say, ‘Nothing happens. Where’s the rape scene? Where’s the violence?” Green said. The director discussed how several critics reviews cited that the film has tension, but never gets intense enough conclusions that she questions.
“We still get in reviews saying, ‘It bubbles away but never reaches boiling point,’ and I’m thinking, ‘What’s boiling point? The rape scene? Is that what you were looking for?”
“It’s so wild that they think something’s missing because we don’t ever get to that level of violence, which is so crazy that that’s what cinema has to have,” she said.
For Green, the point of the film is more focused on the gender dynamics of what women are willing to accept as OK or not, and that doesn’t always extend into sexual violence.
“The whole film is about what we tolerate [and] what we accept as women in those spaces,” she said.
“The Royal Hotel” was inspired by Pete Gleeson’s 2016 documentary “Hotel Coolgardie,” focused on two Scandinavian women working in a bar in the Australian outback.
“I hadn’t seen the Australian outback represented that way or through that lens of women, especially foreign women at that, who were not familiar with the environment and trying to make sense of it,” Green said.
And because the focus of the film isn’t necessarily on violence, it necessitated a changed ending that turned away from what Green saw as the bleaker finale of “Hotel Coolgardie.”
“I was talking about trying to make it a narrative about strength and about the carving out of strength and finding your own,” Green said. The director added she’s eager to have more people see the movie and explore whether there’s a generational or cultural divide with audiences who might feel a certain way about her characters and their decision.
“It plays very differently, culturally. I’m not sure generationally, but I’m excited to find out what that is,” she said.
“The Royal Hotel” is in theaters Oct. 6.